-Unwillingness to stay with his assignment
-Lack of discipline
-Minuscule football IQ
-Takes horrific angles to the football
Miami strong safety Ray-Ray Armstrong is considered, by most draft gurus, to be a first or second round prospect in next year’s draft. But there is absolutely no way that anyone who has seen him play believes that he actually has a future in the NFL. I have never seen a player touted as a “future 1st round pick” who is as horrific as Armstrong is on film. And I saw Vontaze Burfict before his draft stock fell. Armstrong is a joke, and, if he actually gets drafted as high as everyone says he will (which I doubt), he will be a major bust in the NFL.
Armstrong has excellent physical tools. At 6’4, 215lbs, he has ideal size for a safety, and he has excellent speed for his size, with a 4.54 40 yard dash. He has excellent athleticism and his strength is also above average. Armstrong is an excellent physical specimen.
Armstrong has poor stats. In 2011, he was one of many Hurricanes suspended for the Nevin Shapiro scandal, but he didn’t do much upon coming back. In 7 games, he only got 34 tackles, 1 interception, and 0.5 TFL’s. So why were his stats so bad? It didn’t help that he WASN’T A STARTER upon returning. He only started one game in 2011, the game against Duke, and the only reason he was a starter was because Miami ran a base 4-2-5 defense for that game only. I find it to be quite telling that Armstrong spent the entire season as a backup safety behind Vaughn Telemaque and JoJo Nicolas. Not to mention, he was also a backup before the suspension. In 2010, he only started 3 games, all of which Nicolas missed due to injury. I find it absolutely shocking that people think a player who wasn’t even a starter during his junior season will be a first round pick in next year’s draft. Ultimately, Armstrong has poor stats.
I usually try to separate every aspect of a player’s game in my scouting reports into many different paragraphs, but, in Armstrong’s case, every aspect of his game his hurt by one thing: selfishness. In my 4 years of scouting, I’ve only been able to detect true selfishness on the field with one other player: Vontaze Burfict. By film alone, I can tell that Armstrong (like Burfict) is completely apathetic to winning; rather, he strives only to make his own stats look good. In coverage, he is an absolute nightmare. In cover 2, he isn’t even patient enough to stick with his assignment, considering he knows most passes aren’t thrown that deep. On most plays, he shows that he doesn’t care about allowing catches. He does whatever possible to make himself look good by going for interceptions that he has absolutely no chance of getting. Plays like this pretty much sum up his game. He bites on the route, hoping to get an interception, Danny Coale cuts, and he commits a hard pass interference penalty to avoid giving up a touchdown. There is absolutely no reason imaginable to try to jump Coale’s route in that situation. Especially on 3d & 6. Thanks to that play, VT scored a touchdown on that drive and won the game by 3. Armstrong’s lack of discipline in coverage is truly deplorable. It’s one thing for a player to miss his assignment, and legitimately forget what he is supposed to do on a given play.What Armstrong does on a regular basis in coverage is beyond just missing assignments. He ignores assignments in an effort to help his own stats. I guess he misses assignments as well (#26, almost made the tackle before reaching the end zone, closest to Coale when he made the catch). Watch the film on virtually any 30+ yard play Miami’s defense allowed during the last 7 games of 2011, and it’s virtually always the fault of Ray-Ray Armstrong. It brings back memories of Burfict. Armstrong took the bait on virtually every play action run against the Miami defense during the 2010 and 2011 seasons (in an effort to improve his tackle numbers), and it frequently results in receivers being very wide open over the middle. He also has mediocre body control, typical of taller players, so he struggles with quicker receivers in man coverage.
Against the run, Armstrong is still terrible. He puts effort on run plays, since he really likes to make his tackle stats look good, but his instincts are nothing short of horrendous and he uses terrible tackling fundamentals. I’ve never seen a player who takes such ridiculous angles to the ball (the safety that starts the play at the top right corner of your screen). To say his instincts are poor would be a gross understatement. He constantly bites on play actions, and he takes completely inexplicable angles to the ball. He makes some mistakes in his angles to the ball that seem like common sense. For example, there was one play against Virginia Tech in 2011. Armstrong started the play in the middle of the field, David Wilson ran to the weak side, and Brandon McGee was about a yard away from David Wilson’s outside shoulder. The common sense thing for Armstrong to do in that situation is stay inside in case Wilson runs inside to avoid McGee’s tackle. But Armstrong inexplicably ran right behind McGee, Wilson cut inside, and McGee missed the tackle in part because Armstrong literally hit McGee in his attempt to tackle Wilson. You can see the play here (Armstrong is #26, McGee is #21, they miss the tackle when Wilson is about 2 yards in front of the line of scrimmage). Beyond his horrible instincts, Armstrong also uses horrific tackling fundamentals. Like Burfict, he rarely makes an effort to actually wrap up on run plays. He always goes for the big hit, which yields highlights but lots of missed tackles. He also has some hip tightness, so he can be juked out by quicker backs. However, in spite of terrible tackling fundamentals, he is actually an average tackler due to brute strength alone. Overall, Armstrong is a poor run stopper.
Armstrong has poor character. He was suspended for 4 games in 2011 for his part in the Nevin Shapiro scandal, and, as I said before, he is a selfish player. In football, it isn’t easy to identify a player as selfish based on film alone (unlike in basketball, where shot selection can make it easy). But Armstrong is clearly selfish. He ignores his assignments on many plays, which is absolutely inexcusable. Although he plays with excellent on field intensity, he clearly cares more about his own stats and highlights than wins.
Ultimately, I think Armstrong is the most overrated prospect of next year’s draft. I refuse to believe that he will be drafted as high as many draft pundits say he will. Film, not past recruiting accolades or measurables like a 40 yard dash, tells the true story about a player. And Armstrong’s film is absolutely terrible.
NFL Comparison: Will Hill
Grade: 30 (not really worthy of being drafted)
Projection: 50 (will be a late 5th to early 6th round pick)